Hotel Rooftop Pools: Design Considerations

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Because of rising land costs, rooftop swimming pools are becoming a popular space-saving design option.  Setting up an elevated pool, especially one over habitable rooms, involves many design considerations.  Here are a few:

  • Reliable Building Structure – Water is heavy! To put this in perspective, the amount of water in a standard pool (i.e., 24’ x 12’ x 4’ deep pool) weighs over 70,000 pounds. Therefore, rooftop pool design requires a robust structural system. Owners of buildings in seismic zones or with pools located on higher floors (e.g., with pronounced movement) have additional structural design considerations.
  • Shape of Pool –Rooftop pools require careful planning to ensure the shape of the pool can transfer both the weight of the pool and water. The walls and columns underneath must transfer the load down to the building’s foundation.
  • Pool Deck Level – If you design for guestrooms directly below the rooftop pool level, you must plan for a raised pool deck. It is typical to start with a pool vault in which to place the pool structure and supporting equipment.
  • Pool Material – For elevated pools, preventing water leakage is vital. The most popular material for leakage prevention is an enhanced reinforced concrete mixture.
  • Water Treatment System – To reduce the amount of chlorine being moved through occupied areas of a hotel, many owners consider saline pools in place of chlorine.
  • Cooling Provisions – On sunny days, overheating can be a risk for smaller rooftop pools. Provisions for cooling the water may be required in some areas.
  • FF&E Selections – Rooftop applications require FF&E selections that can withstand severe weather events and decrease the potential for blowing chairs, loungers, tables, and umbrellas.  Careful selection, placement, and protection of these items is critical for limiting potential damage and injury.
  • Pool Lighting – Hoteliers who plan to allow guests in the pool area at night need to consider pool lighting, especially overhead lighting. Lighting designers must create the ambience for the space while providing adequate lighting for guest safety.
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